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Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya, fact or
The case of Marsabit County
Perspectives on Federalism, Vol. 11, issue 3, 2019
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Devolution and the associated mechanisms of governance, such as power-sharing,
limited government, a reformed system of public administration and civic engagement, and
its features that include the protection of minorities, inclusivity and socio-economic
development, are all parts of the wider mosaic of peacebuilding. In Kenya, the devolution of
political, fiscal and administrative powers to 47 counties is built on the promises of enhancing
democracy, building peace, and ensuring the equitable distribution of resources. This article
investigates whether devolution has delivered on the promise of greater inclusion,
accountability and peace in the Marsabit County. The investigation revealed that the
adaptation of a devolved system in Kenya has radically transformed Marsabit County: socio-
economic development has improved, and significant progress is recorded in the health and
education sectors. Critical challenges remain and these include the prevalence of ethnic
conflict, endemic corruption, limited resources, an inequitable distribution of resources and
Kenya, devolution, ethnic conflicts, Marsabit, Socio-economic development, Resource
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Decentralisation is increasingly viewed as a potential solution to some of the problems
that Africa is facing (Bancati 2009). In Kenya, the devolution of political, fiscal and
administrative powers to 47 counties is built on the promises of enhancing democracy,
ensuring the equitable distribution of resources, the inclusion and participation of minorities
in government, as well as enhancing checks and balances, and protection of the separation
of powers (Ghai 2015). Debates over federalism and decentralisation took place in Kenya at
independence in 1963 with the nation initially establishing a devolved government commonly
referred to as ‘Majimbo ‘ (Nabwire 2018 & Gertzel et al. 1969).Thus, Kenya’s first constitution
provided for Majimboism with a central government and seven regional administrations
(Coast, North-Eastern, Eastern, Nairobi, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza). The executive
authorities were vested with a Governor (Article 72(1) of the Kenya Constitution 1963) and
a Prime Minister (Article 75(1) of the Kenya Constitution 1963) with regional executives at
the regions’ headquarters. In addition, the legislative authorities were vested with two houses
of parliament – the Senate and the House of Representatives (Article 34(2) of the Kenya
Constitution 1963). Nonetheless, political leaders and elites were divided on the suitability of
Majimboism or any form of decentralisation in Kenya. During negotiations an ideological split
emerged as the communities perceiving themselves as minorities pushed for a federal
republic, while dominant groups such as the Kikuyu and Luo pushed for a unitary system.
Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga were major opponents of Majimbo: Kenyatta’s intention
was to rule Kenya under Kikuyu hegemony; Odinga thought a unitary system would be best
for Kenya, in the sense that it would promote national identity and unity. Majimbo was
dismantled less than 2 years after independence. (Ogot 1995).
The constitution was amended in 1964 and 1969, resulting in the end of devolved and
multiparty system in Kenya. The House of Representatives and Senate were merged to form
the National Assembly, while the Head of State and Prime Minister were consolidated to
create a strong presidency with unlimited powers (Gertzel 1966).
The post 1964 era witnesses the continued existence of, the powerful provincial colonial
administration and its use as a major agent of the executives up the 2000sII. The successive
Kenyan presidents – Jomo Kenyatta (1963-1978) and Daniel arap Moi (1979-2002) – both
used centralised state power and resources to favour their regions and exclude other
communities from public opportunities and development (Bosire CM, 2015 and Muigai G,
2004). Bureaucratic inefficiencies related to the centralisation of power caused a further
decline in access to resources and development (Ibid.). The public service became an
appendage of the executive through which the president, his family, ethnic group, and close
political associates amassed wealth through rent-seeking and the illegitimate and primitive
accumulation of the resources of the state (Sihanya 2011). This resulted in regional and other
geographical inequalities, marginalisation and disenfranchised citizens of their
constitutionally guaranteed rights. Dissent was expressed in the form of political party
opposition, a vibrant civil society and international support for political and legal reforms
(Ibid). Mwai Kibaki come to power in the year (2002-2007) through such change, however,
corruption, ethnic favouritism and inter-communal violence continued during his two terms
in the office.
The Northern Frontier Districts (NFD) are the regions that Kenya’s successive
presidents marginalised and excluded the most.III The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation
Commission reports found that Northern Kenya – taken to consist of the former Northern
Frontier Districts, the Upper Eastern and North Rift Valley provinces – suffered particularly
harsh economic marginalisation as a result of biased or indifferent state policies (TJRC Vol.
1 2013: xv). The implication is that marginalisation in this region occurred with hardships
often passed on to subsequent generations through a cycle of limited education and
employment opportunities. The Commission noted further that women, minority groups
and indigenous people suffered state-sanctioned discrimination. As a result, the NFD
suffered gross violations of human rights on account of their ethnicity, limited resources and
continued conflicts in the region (TJRC Vol. 2C 2013: 28). The complex underlying causes
of violations and marginalisation in the NFD include centralised power, a culture of
impunity, inter-ethnic competition, uneven development, under-employment and patriarchy
The 2007 post-election violence, which resulted in death and destruction, resulted in
intensified calls for fundamental constitutional changes.IV A devolved system was adopted in
2010 to address some of the challenges discussed above. It is expected to enhance democratic
governances, fostering unity by recognising diversity, addressing historical injustices which
resulted in glaring disparities in regional development. Devolution is also expected, in the
long run, to tackle ethnically motivated violence by lowering the stakes in the competition
for the presidency, a persistent cause of ethnic violence in Kenya.
The adaption of the devolved system in Kenya has radically transformed the previously
forgotten NFD. The region’s, including the Marsabit County, have witnessed the county
government’s expansion of the functions, such as agriculture, county health services, county
transport, cultural activities, county education, and public works and services, which fall
under its ambit since the devolved system was adoptedV. As a result, socio-economic
development is being enhanced, women and youth are getting empowered, and access to
education and health care services has improved.VI However, endemic corruption, perennial
conflicts and limited resources is decelerating the success of devolution in the county.
Therefore, this article investigates if the devolution has delivered on the promise of
greater inclusion, accountability and peace in Marsabit County. The article proceeds as
follows: the next section appraises the objectives of devolution in Kenya and evaluates the
implementation of these objectives under the first and second county government in
Marsabit. The article then examines the challenges that impede the realisation of devolution
objectives in Marsabit. It ends with a conclusion that argues that both county and national
government need to settle ethnic conflicts and cultural rivalries to foster peace and realise
the objectives of devolution in Marsabit.
2. Devolved system in Kenya
In August 2010, Kenya promulgated a new constitution whose provisions included the
devolution of political, fiscal and administrative powers from the national government to 47
counties.VII The constitutional provisions under Chapter 11 of the 2010 Constitution
represent a fundamental shift in the state structure in Kenya, from centralised unitary system
to a devolved government.VIII The decentralisation of power to 47 counties under the
leadership of democratically elected governors indicates a move towards more inclusive and
accountable county institutions that would be able to deliver better services. It was also
hoped that devolution would bring the government services closer to the people, enhance
democratic and development gains by giving marginalised communities an increased stake in
the political system and enabling local solutions to be found for local problems.
The constitution also requires ‘each level of government to perform its functions and
powers in a manner that respects the functional and institutional integrity of the government
at the other level’ (Art 189 of the Kenya Constitution). Art 1(4) of the Kenya Constitution,
2010, stipulates that the sovereign power of the people is exercised at (a) the national level;
and (b) the county level. Kenya’s historical experiences informed the inclusion of these
constitutional clauses specifically to protect counties from having their powers usurped by
the national government, as previously happened under the old constitutional order.
The 2010 Constitution sought to ensure that the exercise of presidential and
gubernatorial powers is checked and in the process enhance national cohesion. The executive
has been delinked from the legislature and a number of checks and balances introduced to
curb executive dominance, as was the practice before. The executives will be subjected to
horizontal, vertical and normative checks and balances. Horizontal checks are in the form of
an independent and empowered bicameral parliament,IX an independent and administratively
empowered judiciary, and commissions and independent offices.X Vertical checks are in the
form of a devolved system of county governments, a restructured public service and an
empowered civil society. The 2010 Constitution stipulates that the president, the governance
and the entire public service be subjected to normative standards in their exercise of
constitutional, statutory and administrative functions. Furthermore, the Constitution has
established various measures to ensure that the president has the support of Kenyans beyond
his or her ethnic base. The constitution also calls for the composition of executive and
legislative systems that reflect the country’s diversities.
Other affirmed intentions of the devolved system in Kenya include the protection of
minority rights and marginalised groups,XI enhancing democratic governance, fostering peace
and unity by recognising diversity, Scott-Villiers rightly notes that ‘devolution in Kenya is
aimed at reducing incidents of violence arising from the politicisation of ethnicity’ (Scott-
Villiers 2017:247). He argues further that, ‘politicised ethnicity had long been one of the
active mechanisms that governed the distribution of goods, rights and responsibilities in the
Kenyan state’ (Ibid.248). Therefore, devolution is expected to lead to a more inclusive and
accountable national and county institutions that are able to deliver better services for all and
in turn reduce the tension and divisions that cause conflict.
Objectives of devolution in Kenya is provided in article 174 (a)-(h)XII. Objectives is
achieved while observing national values as set out in Article 10 which includes; -
a) Patriotism, national unity, the sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law,
democracy and the participation of the people;
b) Human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-
discrimination and the protection of the marginalised;
(c) Good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability and
(d) Sustainable development (Article 10 (2) (a)-(d) of the Kenya Constitution 2010).
The above national values and principles of governance seek to diffuse, if not eliminate
altogether, the ethnic tensions fuelled by perceptions of marginalisation and exclusion.
County governments have been in place since the March 2013 general election, and much
effort and resources have been dedicated to implement their functions. The county
governments have to build new institutions and develop capacity from scratch to enable
them to perform their functions and exercise their powers.
3. Marsabit County – a brief background
Marsabit is the largest county in Kenya with its population having increased from 291,077
in 2009 to 459,785 in 2019 (KNBS, 2019).XIII The county’s physical environment is marked
by desert or semi-desert conditions with the exception of Mount Kulal (close to
Loiyangalani), Mount Marsabit (where Marsabit Town is located), and Hurri Hills (in North
Horr).XIV As a result, arable farming is limited to only 3 per cent of the county’s total land
area and mainly in the areas around Mount Marsabit (Fratkin & Roth 2005). For this reason,
the livelihood systems of the area’s inhabitants have historically depended on pastoral
production with farming in the region, which remains limited, only commencing after the
advent of the colonial era. In the other remaining areas, pastoralism is the predominant form
of land use.
Marsabit is composed of four sub-counties and these are Laisamis, Saku, North Horr,
and Moyale.XV In addition, the county is home to a number of ethnic groups, the major ones
being the Borana, Gabra, Rendille, Burji, Samburu, Turkana, Dessanetch, Walu, and Somali
communities (Ibid.). Historically, nearly all ethnic groups in the county engage in pastoralist
livelihoods. The Gabra and Rendille communities herd camels, cattle, goats, and sheep,
whereas the Borana and Samburu largely herd cattle, and the Burji are entrepreneurs and
3.1 Marsabit prior to devolution
Prior to independence, Marsabit was part of the Northern Frontier District (NFD) in
what was also known as Northern Frontier Province (NFP). Ghai rightly noted that the NFD
was not fully integrated into Kenya until shortly before independence (Ghai 2015). As the
British prepared to relinquish their control over the Kenya Colony, their authorities decided
to transfer the NFD to the Somali Republic, These plans inspired hope of reunification
between Kenyan Somalis and their ethnic brethren (Ibid.). However, ethnic groups in
Marsabit, are divided on the issues of secession. The Borana, with the exception of the Waso
Borana,XVI were not interested in the creation of a Greater Somalia (Branch 2011: 28-35). At
the same time, ethnic groups such as the Garreh, Somalis and Rendille supported secession.
The Borana feared that their merger into Somalia would lead to a loss of Borana lands and
political rights. Although the Borana and Somalis belonged to the same linguistic family and
practised nomadic pastoralism, there were certain religious and cultural differences between
them that influenced against the realization of a united front (Schlee 2008).
The Somalis are largely Muslim while the Borana (apart from few of Isiolo Borana) follow
customary practices linked to the Oromo Gadaa system. It is also important to note that
various Borana viewed Oromia (Region of Ethiopia) and not Somalia, as their ‘homeland’
(Arero 2007). The Majority of Borana speaks Oromo language whilst Somalis largely speaks
Somali language. The ethnic groups that supported secession joined the Somali nationalist
party called the Northern Province Progressive People’s Party (NPPPP) and campaigned for
secession (Ibid.). In the end, the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the NFD voted
for secession in a referendum, which the colonial government organized in 1962, the results
of which were rejected by the Kenyan government. Even so, Britain suggested that the NFD
be given new regions (under a system of regionalism) which would have given Somalis in
Kenya greater autonomy, however, the offer was rejected by the Somalis (Ghai 2015).
The Kenyan government was staunchly opposed to secession because they did not wish
to lose a fifth of the new country’s territory and feared that it would stoke dangerous
centrifugal forces (either in the form of demands for self-rule or new secessionist
movements) that could threaten Kenya’s stability (Arero 2007). The Kenyan government’s
rejection of the results of the 1962 referendum led the dissatisfied NPPPP to launch a
guerrilla war under the umbrella of the Northern Frontier District Liberation Front
(NFDLF). The guerrillas attacked government outposts and used weapons they acquired
from Somalia to gain an advantage in the previously largely dormant regions. The Kenyan
government responded by through draconian emergency powers, which were retained until
1969, with great brutality and overwhelming forces and thus, resulted in a successful
containment of the rebellion (Ghai 2015). Nonetheless, the end of the ‘shifta war,’ as the
conflict is popularly known, did not bring back , the stability and relative security experiences
during the colonial (and pre-colonial) period.
The elimination of the threat of secession meant that the government had few incentives
to devote further resources to the NFD. The region, much like its colonial predecessor, is
considered to be of low potential. Both Kochore (2016:499-500) and Arero (2007:294) noted
that the colonial and successive post-colonial government in Kenya did not do much to
develop Marsabit, hence the area was classified as a low potential area. As a result, the
communities in Marsabit did not imagine themselves as part of Kenya, owing to their social,
economic and political marginalisation (Arero 2007). The public services provided to the
local population remained very limited. The shifta guerrillas took advantage of the subsequent
neglect of the area and transformed themselves into actual bandits; for the next few decades
incidences of murder, robberies, and other criminal acts made Marsabit a highly dangerous
and volatile place (Branch 2011: 28-35). The deaths of two prominent leaders in Marsabit –
Daud Dabaso Wabera, first District Commissioner of the NFD and Isako Umuro, Member
of Parliament – were attributed to the secession and shifta war. (Schele and Shongolo 2012).
3.2 Marsabit County as a devolved unit
The Jomo Kenyatta government dissolved the NFD and the Somali-dominated regions
were changed to the North Eastern Province while the Borana regions, Isiolo and Marsabit
districts were transferred to the new Eastern Province. Marsabit County came into existence
with the promulgation of Kenya’s new constitution in 2010. The devolved government of
the new county was established in 2013 after a period of extensive preparation. Devolution
has enabled the development of regions, including rural areas, which were severely
underdeveloped. The merits of devolution are visible in Marsabit as noted in the improved
service delivery and passing of development plans that are more localised. Additionally,
public services have now become more accessible to the residents due to subsidiarity and
local control and management brought about by the devolution (Czuba 2018). This
transformation has been possible because of the decentralization of budget allocation, of
which Marsabit County has been a major beneficiary.XVII The resources that the county
government manages and the power that comes with it also made the office of the governor
very attractive to political agents in the county.
Political competition in Marsabit has been complex due to its history and geographical
location. The devolution has intensified local political competition, cases of conflicts
increased and the major ethnic groups felt that ‘it’s their time to eat!’ – Meaning, they are
expecting to gain something, such as the potential of promised jobs and contracts, from the
political process (D’Arcy and Cornell 2016). Interestingly, there is no outright majority ethnic
group in the county. As a result, alliances were formed by like-minded ethnic groups to form
voting blocks in order to get the governorship and elective positions and upon getting
powers, the politicians divide up county executives and departmental heads amongst
themselves. Parties in the government wield huge county resources and reap huge rewards,
and opposition parties are left to wither. These ‘negotiated democracies’ have been found to
be inclusive enough to maintain short-term stability, in the long-run lead to exclusive services
delivery based on patronage rather than needs. Since adoption of devolved system, inter-clan
conflict over the scarce resources such as (grazing, water points and fertile lands) have
increased in magnitude and intensity. In addition, longstanding tensions pitting dominant
ethnic groups against minorities are exacerbated by the electoral context for county
leadership. Consequently, expectations that devolution would lead to peace has not been
fully realised in Marsabit County.
3.3 First county government – ReGaBu Alliance
The first governor of Marsabit Ukur Yattani. Ukur, who is from the Gabra tribe, was
elected under the new 2010 Constitution by the coalition of ethnic groups known as ReGaBu
(Rendille, Gabra and Burji). This coalition provided for interethnic cooperation in the
divisive politics in Marsabit, which was also meant to reduce Borana’s domination of the
political discourse in the county. Ukur, in order to obtain Burji and Rendille support, offered
them positions of the deputy governor and senator, respectively. He also sought to expand
the alliance to include smaller communities that might give it an electoral edge over the
Borana; to this end, the position of the female Member of Parliament was offered to the
Garreh. The ReGaBu alliance took 22 seats from the 33 Members of County Assembly
(MCAs). Thus controlling both county executives and Assembly.
However, the relationships between the most powerful Marsabit politicians worsened
considerably after the 2013 elections. Governor Ukur’s political calculus changed in that,
although the ReGaBu coalition and the unification of the Gabra allowed him to become the
governor, ReGaBu and Gabra were expecting political rewards for their support.
Unfortunately, Governor Ukur is said to have side-lined both ReGaBu and his Gabra
constituents with the major beneficiaries said to be his immediate clan, which is Gabra-Gar.
Czuba noted that sub-ethnic favouritism was common; 10 out of 25 county directorships
were given to Gabra-Gar (Czuba 2018: 23). Czuba also mentioned that contracts and
government tenders were given to Ukur’s closest allies (ibid: 24). This unequitable pattern of
allocating government positions and contract led to discontent not only among the defeated
Borana but also political agents representing the Burji, Rendille and, to a lesser extent, the
non-Gabra-Gar. Hence, Ukur lost the governorship in 2017 to the new political alliance,
KAYO,XVIII which is led by Governor Mohamed Ali.
3.4 The second county government – KAYO alliance
Mohamed Ali, a Borana, was elected the second county governor after the 2017 general
elections. On their own, the Borana do not have a sufficient number of voters to win county
elections in Marsabit, as a result, Mohamed and his associates set out, to construct a new
interethnic alliance that intended to unseat Ukur. Thus, the KAYO alliance was formed a few
years before the 2017 general elections. Governor Mohamed won the seat on the distribution
of elective seats amongst the major tribes in a way similar to the success of the ReGaBu
alliance. The position of deputy governor was given to Burji, and the senatorial seat went to
Rendille. In addition, Governor Mohamed secured the support of the representatives of
small (non-Garre) Somali clans known as the ‘corner tribes’ (Aden 2014). True to his words,
Governor Mohamed included all ethnic groups in his executive and nominated minorities
and youths in the county assembly. He asserted that he would distribute resources and
opportunities across the county and that no one would be excluded from his government
services.XIX The KAYO alliance controls all executives and the county assembly, thus
enabling it to pass any policies and regulations easily.
3.5 Performance of ReGaBu and KAYO in Marsabit
One of the most frequently cited argument in favour of the devolved system is that it
will have a positive impact on public basic needs in marginalised regions such as Marsabit.
Devolution’s ability to allow government to tailor decisions to the specific demands and
needs of the local population is perceived as enabling the matching of resources with citizens’
needs in a cost effective way. The transformation is visible in Marsabit: previously
marginalised communities, including minorities, are now enjoying the fruits of devolution
with services and government resources reaching every corner of the county. The minorities
are represented in the county assemblies and executives. Their voices and needs are provided
for. Nonetheless, many still feel that opportunities are given to elites and governors
Schedule four of the Kenya Constitution 2010 distributes functions and powers between
the national and county governments. The county governments have various functional
areas. These include agriculture; county health services; the control of air and noise pollution;
cultural activities; county transport, including roads, street lighting, traffic and parking, public
road transport, ferries and harbours; animal control and welfare; and trade development and
regulations. Further functions include, county planning and development; pre-primary
education; and county public services, which includes water and sanitation, firefighting
services and ensuring public participation in administration and governances. This section
briefly appraises how both the ReGabu and KAYO government have performed in the areas
of Health Services, Education, Agriculture and implementation of public participation.XX
3.5.1 Health Services
The Kenya constitution 2010 provides a legal framework that guarantees an all-inclusive
rights-based approach to health services in Kenya. Article 43 of the constitution provides
that Kenyans are entitled to the highest attainable standards of health, which include a right
to healthcare services such as reproductive health care. Article 53 provides the rights for
every child to basic nutrition, shelter and healthcare. The constitution proclaims further that
minorities and marginalised groups should have access to water, health services and
The health sector was the largest services sector to devolve under new 2010 constitution
yet it faces various challenges. The rationale for devolving the health services was to allow
the county government to design models and interventions that matched the unique health
needs in their context. Nonetheless, Marsabit County has fewer health facilities per 100
square kilometres with patients traveling long distances and days to reach these limited health
amenities (Elliott and Abella 2005). The problem of distance is complicated by an unreliable
public transport service, specifically for residents of North-Horr, Loiyangalani and Laisamis.
Sometimes the people use camels and donkeys to transfer the critically ill to the health
facilities and oftentimes the long distance to these facilities result in deaths before they reach
health centres. Thus, the sparsely and fa-away located health services are a burden and risky
particularly for the critically ill, children, elderly and expectant women.
The Regabu Government built a Level 4 hospital in North-Horr and increased medical
personnel and Ophthalmology at the Marsabit Referral Hospital.XXI The KAYO alliance is
building modern facilities at the Marsabit Referral Hospital, Renal units were operationalised
in 2018 and now provide dialysis to county residents.XXII In addition, the construction of the
Kenya Medical Training Collage at the Hospital began in 2017/18. Similarly, KAYO built a
mother and child complex with bed capacity of more than 50 and established the KAYO
medical insurance scheme for county workers and residents. An impressive 26 new maternity
rooms were built and a number of health centres refurbished by KAYO. KAYO committed
30% of gross county revenue to health in order to strengthen their commitment towards
health. Finally, the adaptation of devolved system has witnessed an increase in the number
of health personnel in Marsabit from 330 in 2015 to 623 in 2019 (CIDP, 2019).
The improved infrastructures, facilities and services will offer improved health services
to the residents of Marsabit. The completed medical training college, will develop skills and
provide the much-needed health practitioners in the vast county. Both Kayo and Regabu
governments have shown commitment to the heath sectors. These are encouraging signs of
devolution in that, the county resident will benefit greatly from this development. In fact, a
study conduct by Rare and Ombui (2017:470) confirms that health sectors have improved
greatly under the devolution in Marsabit.
Agriculture is also one of the key sectors whose functions have been devolved under the
Constitution of Kenya, 2010. It remains the mainstay of the Kenyan economy and, accounts
for about 24 per cent of GDP and 74 per cent of employment (GoK, 2008). The sector has
direct implications on at least two critical areas that the county has to address and these are
food security and youth employment. It is thus important that the devolution in the sector
be carried out in a way that addresses the aforementioned challenges and do not worsen
About 80 per cent of the Marsabit County residents are pastoralists deriving their
livelihood from livestock and livestock-based products. About 10 per cent of the total
population practises subsistence agriculture and resides mainly around Mount Marsabit in
the divisions of Central and Gadamoji. The mountain area receives high rainfall and thus
provides a suitable location for agriculture and economic development in the county.
Agro-pastoral systems involve about 16 percent of the population while both livestock
and food crops combined account for 50% of the income among agro pastoralist (GOK,
2013c). Crop production is limited to a few areas due to the low and erratic rainfall received
in most parts of the county. The contribution of the Agriculture sector to youth employment
in Marsabit is very high; approximately 70 percent of the labour force in the rural areas is
employed in agriculture (GOK, 2013). Although agriculture remains the main economic
activities in the county, the sector is exposed to environmental, economic, and social
constrains that affect productivity. Environmental conditions, such as droughts, floods, and
water scarcity, affect production and the marketability of livestock and agricultural products.
Devolution is enabling the county government to invest more in agriculture and livestock.
Under the Regabu, Livestock production was supported through the construction of sale
yards, livestock pends, market stalls and sinking boreholes. Whilst KAYO government
allocated more than Ksh 380 million in the 2018/2019 financial year to development and
growth of agriculture sectors.XXIII
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 stipulate that every child has a right to free and
compulsory basic education (Article 53 (1) (b)). Article 55(a) provides that the states shall
takes measures, including affirmative action programmes to ensure that the youth access
relevant eduation and training. Constitution also provides that special oppertunities be given
to children belonging to minorities and marginalised groups (article 56 (b)). To give effect to
the Constitution, the Basic Education Act (No 14 of 2013) was passed into law to regulate
the provision of basic education and adult education in Kenya. Similarly, a number of policy
relevant to education were adopted, the recent one include Medium Plan Term of Vision
2030 (2013) and Policy Framework for Education and Training (2012).
Kenya’s 2010 constitution devolves the provision of pre-primary education, village
polytechnics and home crafts to the county governments. Similarly, Section 26(1) of the
Kenya Basic Education Act No. 14 of 2010 stipulate that county government are responsible
for the funding the development of required infrastructure for the institutions providing
Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) services. ECDE is one of the most
important levers for accelerating attainment of Education for All goes, as well as the
Millennium Development Goals. (National Policy Framework for Education and Training).
In view this, the county government and stakeholders are expected to expand opportunities
for young children to access ECDE services.
The provision of basic education in the Marsabit continues to face numerous challenges
in spite of the government efforts to provide basic education to all its citizens. Children,
particularly those in the county’s rural areas, are engaged in pastoralist activities and hence
there are reported cases of a low participation in formal schools. Pastoralist are confronted
with a myriad of challenges that include the under development of infrastructures and
schools, rampant insecurity due to lack of sufficient law enforcement agencies, vastness of
the arid lands and cattle rustling. All these impedes children’s chances to access education.
Buma and Begi (2016:129) in their recent study on the social-cultural factors impeding
children’s access to early education, revealed that the majority of the children in Turbi
division in Marsabit County, do not have access to early childhood education. They noted
that factors such as taking care of livestock’s, participation in traditional ceremonies, and
female genital mutilation hinder the development and growth of the ECSs in the area.
Since independence, national plans and solutions have largely failed to provide adequate
solutions to the challenges faced by the county’s education sector. Net enrolment rations in
pre-primary, primary and secondary schools remain far below those of the national level.XXIV
The county has few educational facilities and endures low access, retention, completion and
transition rates.XXV In addition, there is a severe shortage of teacher’s with teachers from
other regions of Kenya not willing to work in some regions due to problems of insecurity.
The first county government made ECD their key priority areas. A number of ECD
Centres were built and training for more 160 caregivers provided under Regabu government.
Similarly, KAYO increased ECD and built centres across all four sub-counties, and allocated
more funds to the youths and polytechnic skills development.XXVI Therefore, there is positive
development in early childhood education, thus obligation of children’s rights to education
gradually being fulfilled. Research conducted by Rare and Ombi (2015:470) on the effects of
devolution in improving living standard of Marsabit county, revealed that the devolution in
Marsabit County has positive results in all education levels and specifically growth and
expansion recorded in the early childhood programs.
3.5.4 Public participation and inclusivity
Public participation is an empowering process, which enables local people to do their
own analysis, take command and gain confidence (Chambers, 2002). Strengthening public
participation and governance is a core element of Kenya’s strategy to accelerate growth and
address long standing inequalities. The 2010 Kenya constitution and laws have expressly
mandated government officials, systems and processes to guarantee public participation and
actively promote it.XXVII The Kenya constitution demands transparency, accountability,
participation and inclusiveness in governance, and thus envisions a strong participation of
citizens, right from the grassroots, in decision-making processes. This is guaranteed through
devolution and platforms provided for this purpose.
The County Government Act of 2012 requires that the county governments ensure the
public participation, coordinate the participation, and develop the capacity of the public to
participate (The County Government Act, 2012, Section 87-89).XXVIII Moreover, the Public
Finance Management Act of 2012 requires public participation in county public finance
matters through the establishment of a County Budget and Economic Forum (Public
Finance Management Act of 2012).
Both Regabu and KAYO have passed public participation and civic education bills.XXIX In
expanding their services across the county, Regabu supports the listing of a new ethnic in
Kenya, commonly referred to as WAYU. KAYO has gone further than that in enhancing
public participation in all its programmes and activities. Nevertheless, a growing number of
scholars and researchers have been critical of county government. Bulle and Omubui (2016:
179) contend that under Regabu ‘Public participation is done in a hurry by the executive and
as such many people are left out of decision making in budget and other government
programmes’ they further noted that nepotism, clannism and ethnic favouritism by county
executives in youth employment was common under the Regabu. (ibid. 179). Similarly, Czuba
(2018:23) notes that the Regabu regime gave preference on employment, county contracts
and public services to governor Ukur’s closest clans, particularly the Gabra-Gar. Nonetheless,
KAYO is improving the interactions between citizens and the government.XXX In addition,
people are closer to democratic processes that affect their lives directly. More efforts are
needed to enhance public participation, inclusivity, peace and conflict resolution; as
discussed below, conflict has been and continue to be the biggest challenge to development,
co-existence and harmony in the county.
4. Challenges that impede the realisation of objectives of devolution in Marsabit
4.1 Ethnic conflicts
The formation of a devolved system in Kenya has witnessed a change in the nature of
the conflict owing to the political developments in the country. Competition over the control
of administrative units or competing claims over boundaries has escalated in different regions
of Kenya. The Marsabit County has experienced a wave of violent conflicts, where major
ethnic groups (Borana, Burji, Gabra, Garreh, Dassenetch and Rendille) are competing for
limited arable land; access to and the utilisation of resources such as water and pasture;
politico-administrative units’ boundaries and for inclusivity in employment and government
opportunities. Traditionally, the majority of conflicts in the county have been caused by
competition over grazing space and water for livestock and sporadic cases of revenge
killings.XXXI Cattle rustling was very common and seen as one of the cultural practices, which
were sanctioned and controlled by the clan elders; such raids were carried out in order to
obtain bride-wealth or as a rite of passage.XXXII However, the motivations of such practices
have changed as rustling is now carried out to increase one’s own wealth or for commercial
purposes. The small arms that are easily available through porous borders fuel the conflict
in the county.XXXIII In addition, the ever-increasing fierce conflict between the communities
is a source of concern amongst themselves and security forces (Schlee 2008 & Gray et al.
4.1.1 Conflict within the county
Members of the Borana and Gabra communities have politically and economically
dominated Marsabit for years. This dominance has created growing resentment from smaller
communities, such as the Rendille, Dessanenach and Burji. The Gabra and the Borana are
traditionally seen as one community since they speak the same language and share
settlements and pasture. However, the perception of dominance and inferiority within
members of the Gabra led to a gradual and increasingly assertive challenges at the social,
political and economic level to notions of Borana ‘supremacy’ in the county.XXXV Various
cases of conflict between the Borana and Gabra have been reported over the years with one
such conflict being the ‘turbi’ massacre, where more than 56 people were killed.XXXVI This
was followed by revenge killings a few days later, where 10 people were executed in broad
daylight in Bubisa. (Huka 2014)XXXVII In May 2019, 11 Gabra elders were killed in the border
town of Forolle (Ombat & Ngasike 2019). In November 2019, 10 people were killed, among
them two police officers in a retaliatory attack (Komu & Walter 2019).XXXVIII
Cases of conflict between the Gabra and Dessanach have also been reported. Conflicts
between the two groups, which occurred between 1915 and 1996, resulted in many deaths,
several injuries and the destruction of properties (Witsenburg 2012). Yet again, the conflict
between Gabra and Rendille was attributed to cattle rustling and revenge killings (Schlee
1991). Similar conflicts have also been reported between the Samburu and Borana,XXXIX
Garreh and Burji, Borana and Gareeh. (Schlee 2007). Political leaders have attributed these
conflicts to competition over pastures that arose from the drought conditions, cycles of
livestock thefts, growing political tensions between the groups over the political
developments in the county and land issues (Scott-Villiers 2017). Ethnic violence in the
Marsabit County has resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives and property and adversely
affected human security. It also heightened tensions and hatred between the communities.
Eventually, increasing conflicts have affected the livelihood of all the ethnic groups in the
county in a negative way. (Cynthia 2000).
4.1.2 Spillovers from border areas
Moyale District, which is in Marsabit County, borders Ethiopia,XL XLI Moyale is
geopolitically and economically important to both the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments.
The dominant ethnic groups on both sides of Moyale are Borana, Gabra, Garreh and Burji
and these transcend national boundaries in terms of settlement, ethnic and kinship
relationships (Kefale 2009). The strategic geopolitical and economic importance of the
border between Kenya and Ethiopia made it a contested space among many actors, including
the Oromia regional state and the Somali regional state in Ethiopia. Periodic conflicts
between the communities along the Ethiopia-Kenya border have existed for centuries.XLII
Over the years, cases of conflict have been reported between Borana-Garreh, Gabra-
Borana, Garreh-Gabra and recently between Burji and Gabra. Reports on conflict amongst
the community started as early as the 1990s and most of this spilled over to each of the sides
of the border. In December 2011, fighting broke out in rural areas on the Kenya side that
are close to the international border with the media reporting that more than 7,000 people
fled into Ethiopia (IRIN, Kenya 2012). In August 2013, immediately after general elections,
more houses were burnt down and some 24 people died (All Africa, Kenya 2013). The Moyale
conflict of 2013, which was felt on both sides of the border, led to 200 deaths, 53,968
displacements and 100 burnt houses (UNDP 2015). It was alleged in this conflict that
Governor Ukur’s administration encouraged his kin from Ethiopia to settle on the Borana
settlements permanently, which the Borana saw as a wider scheme to change demographic
patterns in favour of Gabra in future elections. Thus, many have attributed this to the curse
In July 2012, armed militia attacked two villages near Moyale on the Ethiopian side.
Houses were burned, more than 19 people died, and the Red Cross reported that 20,000
people fled into Kenya (BBC, Ethiopia 2013). In May and June 2015, conflict erupted
between the Gabra and Garreh over land claims arising from the Somalis establishment of a
new village under the Libaan zone that crossed into the Borana territory used by the Gabra
for grazing. Even though there was no historical indication showing Garreh’s territorial
ownership of and settlement in the contested village, the group, backed by the then federal
government in Addis Ababa, has been continuously been expanding into Borana land (Ibid.).
Conflicts on the Ethiopian side of the border between communities have claimed many lives
with various people displaced and properties on both sides of the border destroyed.
Conflict within the county and spillovers from Ethiopia continues and this has escalated
in magnitude, intensity and frequency. The worsening of relationships and increasing
commercialisation of raids, as well as the spread and use of devastating automatic weapons,
have intensified the conflict as noted in the way the attacks affect combatants, women and
children (Ibid.). Most of the incidents occurring since 2013 relate to the political
developments in Kenya, in particular, the devolved system. There is a general view, which
asserts that devolution has been a curse to the pastoral community. Competition over voters
and future voting blocks and resources accompanying it have fuelled the conflict. The
persistence of conflicts has reduced cooperative and social relationships that had existed over
a long period. The recurrent ethnic conflict will have a profound impact and greatly delay
the region’s socio-economic development, economic growth and derail the achievement of
the objectives of devolution.
Scholars and researchers have continuously pointed out that access to and the
distribution of resources are the most common causes of conflict in Africa.XLIII The unequal
distribution of resources, inequalities and the human passion for greed is one of the root
causes of conflicts over time and across countries. This reality is apparent in the Marsabit
County, where cyclical conflicts are often triggered by access to resources such as water and
pasture. As discussed previously in the problem statement, communities in Marsabit have
been marginalised under successive Kenyan regimes. Therefore, it was hoped that devolution
would address these historical injustices. Hence, devolution was received with high
expectations and enthusiasm. As previously discussed, both ReGaBu and KAYO roll out
services and government reach to all corners of Marsabit County. However, county
governments’ employment and issuing of government tenders was reportedly marked by
imbalances (Czuba 2018). For instance, during the reign of ReGaBu, it was alleged that
Governor Ukur distributed resources and key government positions to his clan, particularly
the Gabra-Gar. It was also alleged that employment and other opportunities is given to
patronage among political supporters, with a largely tokenistic inclusion of the other
ethnicity. For that reason, Under Regabu devolution process that explicitly promised inclusion
has locked out the majority of people. (Czuba 2018). In this instance, devolution reinforced
ethnic divisions by concentrating power around one dominant community. This perception
created rifts between rival communities. Hence, there is little optimism for devolution
changing the situation without addressing allegations of ethnic favouritism and ensuring
transparency and equitability in the distribution of resources.
Devolution, if implemented transparently and equitably, offers opportunities for greater
peace in the county. In reality, ethno-political struggles for the control of resources, including
land and government positions, pose the potential for massive destabilisation and create the
potential for recurrent eruptions of violence (Scott-Villiers 2017). There are high
expectations from the public around the issue of resource distribution, land reform and
service delivery and yet disappointment over the slow pace of development initiatives is
growing. These issues need to be addressed by the current and future county governments.
The unequal distribution of resources will derail the objectives of devolution and eventually
infringe the rights provided for in the Kenyan constitution.XLIV
4.3 Socio-economic development
The Kenyan 2010 constitution’s article 174(b) stipulate that the key objectives of
devolution are to promote social and economic development and the provision of easily
accessible services to the residents. One of the abiding assumptions of devolution in Kenya
is the notion that devolution carries an ‘economic dividend’. The economic dividend is in
the potential benefit of opportunities for communities to design and deliver policies that are
attuned to their own needs. As discussed previously, the Marsabit County is gradually
flourishing and the economy is improving. Therefore, devolution in Marsabit presents vast
opportunities to improve the lives of the citizens, as well as to bring services closer to the
Devolution has resulted in the growth of the county’s economy as evidenced in the
increases in the local revenues since adaptation of devolved system. The revenue collection
increased from Ksh 40 million in the financial year (FY) 2013/14 to Ksh116.48 in the FY
2016/2017.XLV The country also collected Ksh 137.4 Million in the FY 2018/19.XLVI During
the year FY 2018/19 Marsabit county has Ksh 7,812 Millions. The main sources of revenue
are; - allocation from National Government, Donors Fund, Conditional Allocation e.g. Road
maintenance, Levy Fund, Free Maternal and Compensation and also from county own
revenue collection.XLVII Using this funds, county government has an opportunity to develop
socio-economic development, strengthen projects in Agriculture and livestock, and expand
youth’s skills and development, Women empowerment and expand citizen business
The mountain area provides a suitable location for investment and economic
development in the county. The recent completion of the Isiolo-Marsabit highway decreased
the travel-time from Isiolo to Marsabit and also contributes to economic growth in the
county (Kochore 2016). However, factors such as droughts, perennial conflicts, unequal
distribution of resources and poverty, resulting slow socio-economic development, cripple
participation in decision-making processes, obstruct the movement of persons.
4.4 Inclusivity, transparency and accountability
The objectives of devolution in Kenya include the promotion of the democratic and
accountable exercise of power (Constitution of Kenya, 2010 Article 174 (a)). Democratic
governance emphasises that decision-making is based on participatory approaches (Ibid.
Article 174 (c)), all level of government, governors and leaders should maintain inclusivity,
accountability and constructive engagement with the various stakeholders. In addition, key
national principles of governance, as articulated in Article 175, stipulate that county
governments be based on democratic principles and the separation of powers. These
principles are further echoed in Article 10, which highlights national values to include human
dignity, equity, equality, inclusiveness, social justice, human rights, non-discrimination and
protection of the marginalised, as well as good governance, integrity, transparency and
Section 35(1) of the County Government Act provides that the governor shall ensure
that the composition of the executive committee reflects the community and cultural
diversity of the county and take into account the principles of affirmative action as provided
for in the constitution. Furthermore, the county assembly is directed not to approve
nominations for appointment to the committee if they do not take into account the
representation of minorities and marginalised communities, as well as community and
cultural diversity within the county. Kenya’s 2010 constitution also mandates parliament to
legislate so that membership in both county assembly and county executives reflects the
‘cultural diversity of a country’ and that minorities within countries are protected (Article 197
Transparent, accountable and democratic governance is, therefore, an imperative if
economic integration is to be realised and conflict reduction addressed effectively. However,
the existence of conflict and underdevelopment in Marsabit undermines the objectives of
devolution. Lack of accountability, transparency and inclusivity fans conflicts and instability,
where conflicts leads to death and the destruction of property. There is growing consensus
on good-governance-development-peace linkages, which remain vital for any form of
transformation to occur in the Marsabit County. There is also an urgent need to put proactive
strategic policy measures in place that will effectively promote peace, conflict resolution and
improve the well-being of the people.
Structures and systems, as in the first county government, which permit a few people to
have inordinate riches while the majority of the citizens remain disadvantaged, must be
substituted by arrangements that nurture the generation of wealth in a way that promotes
justice and good living standards. The opinions and lived experiences of the people of
Marsabit – including the poorest – must be heard. The challenge is to make conflicts, wars
and chaos come to an end and strive towards a new county of peace, stability, economic-
growth, development and a sustainable pattern of livelihood.
5. Concluding remarks
The adaptation of a devolved system in Kenya is gradually transforming the counties as
socio-economic development has been enhanced, and the participation of minorities and
women in the government programmes developed. The county government in Marsabit is
enhancing economic development and expanding the activities that fall within the ambit of
county government, such as health, education and cultural activities. Critical challenges
remain and these include, ethnic conflicts, the scarcity of resources, insecurities and the
unequal distribution of resources by the county government. The study recommends that
the county government should settle ethnic conflicts, enhance cultural diversity and foster
peace and economic development in order for the objectives of devolution to be realised.
The county government should also establish an independent commission consisting
national and local experts to offer solutions on the contentious issues at the core of inter-
clan frictions, such as boarder lands, wells, and access to grazing land, and just restorations
for the losses. Finally, the county government should also cultivate accountability,
transparency, inclusivity and the equitable distribution of county resources.
I Doctoral Candidate, Center for Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law. University of Cape Town. Iharun2011@gmail.com.
II According to Gertzel, the Provincial Administration during the colonial period was a sophisticated, centralised machine through which governor administrator by direct rule. III Bulle & Ombui (2016) state that ‘Most districts of Northern Kenya were marginalized as the sessional paper ten (10) of 1967 could not give them opportunity as they are regarded as /Northern frontier district which does not add any value to the country (Kenya) the sessional paper sought to invest heavily in agricultural production area identified by colonial government, with the hope that it would include d the rest of the country which was not effectively achieved’. IV The United Nations Special Rapporteur stated that the dispute over the results of the 2007-2008 general elections were intensified by issues of land and ethnicity with the ensuing violence leading to more than 1500 people killed, thousands injured, widespread looting and land grabbing. See United Nations, 2011 ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally displaced Persons, Chaloka Beyani’, Human Rights Council, Nineteenth Session, and Agenda Item3. United Nations General Assembly, New York. V See schedule of the Kenya Constitution 2010, for the functional areas of county government. VI The article uses desktop study to appraise how these functions have been rolled out in the Marsabit County. VII For a comprehensive background and explanation of the objectives behind devolution in Kenya, see Ghai 2015. VIII The new constitution, under Articles 6 and 176, establishes a system of devolved government consisting of national and county governments. IX The two houses of parliament are the National Parliament and Senate. X Article 248 of the 2010 Constitution establishes nine commissions and independent offices, including the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Commission for Revenue Allocation, the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, and the Public Service Commission. These commissions differ from the commissions based on the 1969 Constitution because they have an express provision outlining their independence from other arms of government and are administratively and financially delinked from the executive. XI Article 56 of the Kenya Constitution, 2010, stipulates that ‘The State shall put in place affirmative action programmes designed to ensure that minorities and marginalised groups— (a) participate and are represented in governance and other spheres of life; (b) are provided special opportunities in educational and economic fields; (c) are provided special opportunities for access to employment; (d) develop their cultural values, languages and practices; and (e) have reasonable access to water, health services and infrastructure’. Article 102(2) (b) deals with some in-depth inclusion of minority and marginalised groups to ensure greater certainty of the application of bills of rights to marginalised groups. Specific obligations are imposed on the state (which also include the counties) with regard to minority and marginalised groups and persons with disabilities (Arts 52, 54 and 56). A specific object of the devolution of government is then to protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and marginalised communities (Art 174). XII The objectives of devolution in Kenya, as provided for in the article 174(a)-(h) include,- promotion of the democratic and accountable exercised of power, to foster national unity by recognising diversity, to give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance the participation of people in the exercise of the powers of the state and in making decisions affecting/, and to protect and promote the interest and rights of minorities and marginalised communities. XIII Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), n.d. Kenya Population and Housing Census, August 2009–Population Distribution by Sex, Number of Households, Area, Density, and County, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Nairobi. See also Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) (2019) Kenya Population and Housing Census, August 2009–Population Distribution by Sex, Number of Households, Area, Density, and County, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Nairobi. XIV Ibid. XV The county has 20 Ward Assemblies. The county electoral wards are; - Saku, 3, Laisamis 5, North Horr, 5 and Moyale 7. See County government of Marsabit (2019) The second county, integrated development Plan (CIDP). XVI The Waso Borana are mostly Muslims. XVII The budget allocation for Marsabit County increased from Kenya Shilling (KSHS) 3.906 Billion in the Financial Year (FY) 2013/14 to 7 Billion KSHS in the FY 2019/20. Government of Kenya (GOK), Commission on Revenue Allocation Budge 2013-2014, See Also County Government of Marsabit, County Fiscal Strategy paper (CFSP) 2018. XVIII Kayo- is derived from the Borana/Oromo words meaning peace or success XIX Inaugural speech, presented at the Marsabit Stadium. XX The research is a desktop appraisal offering an analysis of county activities that take places in many forums
with outcomes entering public domain through means such as government statements, newspaper editorials, nongovernmental briefings and academic articles. XXI The Modern level 4 Hospital with complete theatre and x-ray wing was built at the cost of 450 million kenya shillings, the facility he said to accommodate more patience’s than it was before. See Mugo, J’ 2016 ‘North Horr get a Ksh 450 Million level four Hospital’ Citizen News, available at https://citizentv.co.ke/news/north-horr-get-a-ksh-450m-level-four-hospital-136182/. Accessed 4th September 2019. XXII Chari, A , 2019 ‘ Governor Ali launches modern facilities at Marsabit Referral Hosptal’ Star News , 6th May 2019’ available at https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/north-eastern/2019-05-06-governor-launches-modern-facilities-at-marsabit-referral-hospital/ accessed 4th September 19. XXIII County Government of Marsabit, County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) -2018. XXIV The ECD enrolment is estimated to be 19, 239 with a total number of 413 teachers. The primary population is estimated to be 46,178 pupils, while Secondary schools stand at 6028 and 568 students enrolled in Vocational training colleges. Marsabit County (2019) Second County Integrated Development Plan 208-2022. For national statistics see, Ministry of Education, Science & Technology (2014) Basic Education Statistical Booklet, Nairobi. XXV Marsabit county has 253 public ECDC and 64 Private, 231 Primary school (181 public, 50 Private), 43 Secondary Schools, 4 Youth Polytechnic and 8 Vocational Training Centres. Marsabit County (2019) Second County Integrated Development Plan 2018-2022. XXVI In the Financial Year 2018/19 more than 500 Million KSHS were allocated to the Youth polytechnic and skills development by KAYO government. XXVII The Constitution 2010, Article 1(2), Article 10(2) a,b and c, Article 27, 33, 35, article 174c,d ; article 184(1), article 232(1) (d) Fourth Schedule Part 2(14) and The Public Finance and Management Act 207. XXVIII See reference to public participation see also; County Government Act, Section 91-96, section 100 and 101. XXIX REGABU passed – Marsabit County Civic Education and Public Participation Bill, 2015. Whilst, KAYO passed the Marsabit County Citizen Charter: Civic Education and Public Participation policy. [Cursor look]? at the content shows both policies are aimed at involving th public in the activities and programs of the county government. XXX For recent public participation see public participation schedules to the public draft finance bill 2019, available at http://marsabit.go.ke/public-participation-schedule-on-marsabit-county-finance-bill-2019/ see also http://marsabit.go.ke/invitation-to-attend-annual-development-plan-adp-2020-21-public-participation-forums/. See also At the launch of the Marsabit County Citizen Charter- Deputy governor Hon Riwe argues that county planning and administration is anchored on consultative process between informed citizen and responsive government. See https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001285919/marsabit-launch-citizens-charter. XXXI However, in recent years, livestock raiding has become more frequent, violent and destructive. Cattle rustling has been common practice among pastoral communities in eastern Africa since the pre-colonial period (Gray et al. 2003). XXXII Cattle raiding is to some extent, a response to disasters such as drought and an attempt to increase the yields of livestock by increasing numbers in a good season as an insurance against bad seasons. XXXIII Marsabit County’s proximity to the borders with Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia and the porosity of the country’s borders and bordering communities give access to small arms and ammunitions, which are used by ethnic groups fighting with rival communities. XXXIV For comprehensive reports on Marsabit conflicts, please see SRIC 2014 ‘Report on Marsabit Pastoralists’ Tension, The Influence of Unsealed National Boundaries and Developing Political Outfit on Pastoralists’ Conflict in Marsabit’. See also Scott-Villiers 2017. XXXV Ibid. XXXVI On 12 July 2005, about 1,000 heavily armed bandits made a series of raids in the Didagalgalu area, some 130 kilometres from Marsabit Town. At least 53 people, including children, were killed (Witsenburg 2012). XXXVII In a revenge attack, 10 people were killed in the Bubisa Trading Centre, 80 km from Turbi. XXXVIII Komu, N & Walter, J (2019) Kenya: Police officers among 10 Killed in Marsabit Bandit Attack, (All-Africa News, November 19). Available at https://allafrica.com/stories/201911060634.html. XXXIX Borana herders have conflicted with pastoral Rendille and Samburu along the district boundaries from southern Marsabit to Isiolo, east of the long Isiolo–Marsabit–Moyale highway (Fratkin and Roth 2005). XL Marsabit County shares an international border with Ethiopia, stretching over 500 km from Moyale to the east and all the way to Illeret at the top of Lake Turkana to the west. XLIMoyale is basically two towns in one: the smaller section on the Kenyan side and the bigger one on the
Ethiopian side with the border running between them. The Kenyan Moyale is made of seven (7) County Assembly Wards, namely: Butiye, Sololo, Heillu, Golbo, Moyale Township, Urain and Obbu. XLII During the Derg (Provisional Military Administration Council) between 1974 and 1991, Moyale was under Borana Awraja (Province). Local communities include the Borana, Garreh and Gabara communities, who lived in peace and harmony for years. During this period, Borana held uncontested control of the traditional wells. With the demise of Derg, the Borana province was split into two regional states and became two competing Woredas (districts), Oromia-Moyale and Somali-Moyale, without any clear demarcation. See Tache & Oba 2009. XLIII See also Markakis 1997; Maxwell and Reuveny 2000. XLIV Art 174(g) of the Kenya 2010 constitution provides that the objectives of devolution is to ensure the equitable sharing of national and local resources and to promote the interest of minorities and marginalised. Communities. XLV County Government of Marsabit (2019). XLVI Ibid. XLVII County collection revenues from business permits, livestock licenses, land and transportations charges and hospital bills. Ipsos MORI 2016). References
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• The Constitution and Legislation
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